Simon Conway Morris’ creationism

Simon Conway Morris a creationist? Well, yes. That’s no news.

I really wonder why Jerry Coyne seem to just discover that Simon Conway Morris is a creationist. SCM believes at a Creator of the universe, as any christian. That classifies him in the creationists’ set, by definition. Maybe we didn’t had enough information to see in what particular subset he belongs, but as most paleontologists he is probably in the Old Earth Creationists subset.

John Cozijn responded to my comment, pointing that

though SCM has always been a theist, the point Jerry is making that he has now added a new element (the non-material nature of the mind) that places him in the ranks of the “mind creationists”.

OK, so there is a particular subset of creationists, the « mind creationists », which I suppose .

Russel Blackford say

For me, at least [creationism] connotes Young Earth Creationism, literal belief in the Genesis account, diluvian geology, the claim that our planet is about 6000 (and certainly no more than 10,000) years old, and so on. In other words, it suggests a PLAINLY irrational position that SCM does not defend. I realise that there are also Old Earth Creationist positions, but SCM doesn’t seem to fit in there either.

Well, according to the Merriam Webster (my usual english online dictionary), creationism is « a doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis« . This is the position of Christians and SCM is a declared one. I don’t think he is a literalist when it comes to read Genesis, but as a christian he declares faith to a god creator of the universe.

David Thomson cites the Oxford English Dictionary:

« Creationism: A system or theory of creation: spec. a. The theory that God immediately creates a soul for every human being born (opposed to traducianism); b. The theory which attributes the origin of matter, the different species of animals and plants, etc., to ‘special creation’ (opposed to evolutionism). »

And he is cherry picking choosing the sense b. as being the relevant one, without taking in account that in the particular case the belief to personal souls (aka immaterial Minds) is what is characterizing christian! By the primary definition of the Oxford English Dictionary SCM is also very much a creationist.

Now, I understand that many people are pissed-off to fail in the same general category as YECs, creationism. Then the YECs are pissed-off to fail in the same category as pigs, mammals? Should we rewrite the definitions to make them happier? I wouldn’t do that.

One particular point for John Cezijn commentary: SCM defends a plainly irrational position when he is defending the « immaterial mind ». The faith to a creator productio totius substantiâ ex nihilo sui et subjecti will lead as some point to defend a plainly irrational position. I’m not against plainly irrational positions, I defend some myself, like my love for my girlfriend, my preference for almonds rather than cashew, coffee vs tea, etc.

But when it comes to talk about science, plainly irrational positions should be kept aside. Any irrational positions. SCM failed to do so.

I wouldn’t have blogposted on this, I have said what I think about this particular subject at Why Evolution is True, but there was a discussion at Darwin2009, a blog created to celebrate Darwin, in the comments of « Comment Darwin a abandonné le créationnisme » (How Darwin abandoned creationism) by Tom Roud, who is also the editor of the Darwin2009 blog.

I carefully avoided to enter the discussion as I had already exchanged with most of the people commenting there and I had nothing new to offer, until I read this sentence:

Certains blogueurs biologistes aiment faire l’amalgame non-darwinien/créationniste, ce n’est pas mon cas.

Some biologists bloggers like to make the equation non-darwinian – creationist, it’s not my case.

As I’m one of the usual suspects I asked for names.

The single example he offered is PZ Myers post on Convergence, schmonvergence, a nice take over SCM coming out. I’m clearly on the side of PZ on this one, but I don’t see [clearly stated, I do imagine what Tom is thinking about] why that would be considered as a general equation: « non-darwinian » = « creationist ». PZ considers a particular case, SCM, and a particular positioning, the interpretation of convergence as a divine purpose. In my response I added another case, people who see a particular kind of purpose, the expression of platonic forms, a constrain of evolution to reach some body plans. And I asked for some pertinent example.

All I got is the assertion that SCM isn’t a creationist because he say so in the introduction of his book. Big deal! I don’t buy that and I think that Jerry Coyne correctly spotted SCM coming out. And the assertion that atheism is a religion!

I suppose that there may be some blogger out there, biologist and making the equation if not-darwinian thus creationist. But Tom wouldn’t help me to find out, he think the comments went out of topic [despite the fact that he made the first step] and shut them. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry in front of the closed door. What I’m sure about is that I will avoid to comment anymore in places where Tom Roud hold the moderation keys [this is the second incident between us]. The World Wide Web, large enough to avoid some people.


  1. #1 par Tom Roud le février 16, 2009 - 8:11

    Yes, I think the comments went out of topic, not because of you, but because we were no longer discussing the initial post, including me, but started to come back to the usual personal attacks about creationnism that can be found anywhere else on the WWW and that I honestly do not find that interesting, for myself and for a general audience, especially when there are other many good posts on various topics on this blog such as today’s post on economy and darwinism.

    This is the reason why :
    – I closed comments,
    – I invited you ON THE DARWIN BLOG to go on with the discussion on YOUR blog, because you especially enjoy these topics, questioning the relationships between the science and the faith of people, and I honestly don’t, except when there is a scientific interest just as in Darwin’s case. With the pingpback you did, people will be able to go on with the discussion here. Too bad you think the discussion should go on in English, maybe this is because in the end you do not care so much about the discussion itself.

    Come on, what a big deal !

    Concerning « incidents » you forgot to mention that :
    – I regularly link your blog, on my blog or on this darwin blog. I certainly do not agree with you on many things, but at least this shows you that I value your blog as some source of interesting information sometimes
    – you made me clear up one comment concerning you on my blog . So I can see you only count « incidents » when you consider yourseld as a « victim » .

    Again : what a big deal ! Things quickly heat up on the WWW, and this is also the reason why I consider now sometimes it is just better to stop threads for everybody to calm down.

  2. #2 par Oldcola le février 16, 2009 - 8:44

    – English is because I don’t think the commenters at Coyne’s blog speak french and you mentioned their opinions about the definition of the term « creationism »; I would like to see them join the discussion.
    – Usually I let people decide of what is interesting or not by themselves
    – The relation between faith and science is of great interest for me, particularly the public relations approach of the John Templeton Foundation, and Simon Conway Morris work with them. As do Ken Miller. As do in France Jean Staune. I had previous contacts with them and I surely don’t appreciate the way they deal with people of opposing opinions, distorting the public display. In one of his conferences Jerry Coyne made the same remark.

    I acknowledge that at your blog you have the right to do whatever you like and that the fact that you shut down the discussion is not a big deal, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t take it in account when I decide were I’m posting/discussing/commenting.

    As you see I do followed your advise to transfer the discussion 😉

    Now, what about that missing example of biologist blogger equating anti-darninian to creationist?

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